Fonterra Co-operative Group is a New Zealand-based multinational dairy co-operative that produces around 30% of the world's dairy exports. With revenue exceeding NZ$17 billion, it is New Zealand's largest company.
Fonterra Brands (FBNZ) is its brand business responsible for producing some of the world’s most loved dairy products including Anchor, Mainland, De Winkel and Symbio.
In July 2007, FBNZ’s Executive Team invited us to help them improve the performance of its 1,300 employees across each of its seven manufacturing sites. Once we agreed the strategic priorities with the Executive, they deployed our Leadership Programme to equip their managers with the tools to deliver the outcomes they were looking for.
“Vantaset’s extraordinary programme and capability have proven such an effective combination; we’ve made it our primary leadership and performance management tool.”
Even though FBNZ brands were well established, Fonterra operates in a highly competitive market that is under constant scrutiny from lobbyists, customers, consumers and government officials alike. Therefore, getting their strategy right to ensure it resonated with stakeholders was paramount to delivering their objectives.
As they were readying themselves for the change, CEO Peter McClure gave HR Director Daniel Love the mandate to find a solution that would enable the company to create the next great era for the business. Having looked at what was out there, Daniel could see our programmes were in a league of their own when it came to improving both leadership and workplace performance which is why they chose us.
During the strategic review Craig Steel facilitated, Peter and Daniel identified two areas of opportunity where they believed FBNZ could outperform their competitors and in doing so, win additional market share. These areas were ‘innovation’ and operational ‘transformation’.
Peter and Daniel agreed that if they were serious about proceeding with one a Vantaset programme, they’d better be able to lead it. So in April of 2008, their ELT started working with Craig.
While the makeup of the ELT has changed, the impact was such that every member of the team agreed their process had the potential to not only change the game in terms of how they operated as an Executive but create a completely different culture and mindset across the business; which they knew would be crucial to realising their vision.
Once the foundations were in place, they rolled our programme out to their 3rd and 4th tier leaders to help them bring about the changes the company was after across the business.
To simplify the process, they also decided to make Vantaset Enterprise their primary leadership and performance improvement tool given the impact it was having on their managers.
Although Fonterra had an extensive suite of HR systems and processes, none of them compared to the programmes Vantaset offered in terms of helping FBNZ build the capability and culture they needed to be successful
In terms of outcomes, we’ve realised an unprecedented improvement in staff performance and engagement across every level of the business.
In regards to commercials, we’ve increased our market share by over 20%, improved our innovation-led revenue from 2% to 16%, improved profit growth by over 30% and improved our health and safety status from one of Fonterra’s worst performers to one of its best.
Critically, however, what it’s done is given us a completely different mandate to challenge ourselves, to engage our people in completely different conversations about their role in the business and the outcomes we need them to deliver. It has also changed the way our leaders engage their people so instead of their focus being on how they manage them, they understand they are there to enable them to deliver the things we’re after.
What’s been interesting, but at the same time not surprising, is the feedback we’ve received from staff. Comments like: “It has completely changed the way I interact with my team”, to “It has given me the mandate to have the conversations with my people that I've always tried to have but was never able to”, to “It is without question the best thing I've ever done in my 15 years of leadership” are commonplace.
As we’ve rolled the process out across the business, we can see the momentum building. Today, we are hearing completely different conversations taking place as staff become more engaged in what they’re doing, and critically, how they can do things better.
While improving a company’s culture is a never-ending journey, what we’ve introduced here gives me confidence we are onto something special. I’m also confident it has given us a formula that will offer us a true competitive advantage well into the future.
There’s no doubt, Vantaset's Performance Transformation Programmes are by far and away the most powerful tools I have ever come across in terms of developing high-performing leaders, organisations, and cultures.
“How we’ve achieved this is not only testament to Peter’s vision but a compelling example of how a company can transform the performance of its workforce when led from the front and supported by the right framework.”